And what’s more, I believe God wants to do something in and through us that will blow our minds!
That was the challenge and encouragement from General Secretary Lynn Green as she spoke in the final session of Baptist Assembly 2014.
Preaching on Psalm 22:25-31, Ephesians 3:20-21 and Luke 14:15-24, she said God’s ‘widest’ vision is that everyone - the 'power-mongers, the poor and the powerless, and all those who never got it together' – are before Him.
The story of Luke 14 shows what the Great Banquet is like. Does our experience of the Kingdom in the present reflect this 'joy, feasting and relationship and dancing and love and laughter?' Lynn asked. 'Is this what we’re inviting people into?'
She said the responses in the story show that ‘other stuff’ was more important than God - and we would do well to heed the challenge rather than be too quick to say ‘oh, that is not me.’
She asked Assembly: what does it mean for us to respond to the Kingdom of God now?
A key point of the passage is God’s determination to see his house full, encapsulated in the powerful and poignant phrase ‘there is still room.’ It shows that God’s widest vision springs from ‘his great love for all creation,’ said Lynn. ‘He wants his house to be full!’
But contrasting this widest vision with our own situation, she wondered if we have become so preoccupied as churches with survival and decline that ‘we have lost sight of the enormity of our mission’. In 1980 regular church attendance in the UK was 11 per cent with an average age of 37. It is now six per cent and 51.
The challenge was not to lament the six per cent, but place the 94 per cent into our ‘hearts, prayer, discipleship and mission’. She said 94 per cent is a huge challenge, and wondered whether if we spend too much time trying to reach people who are not interested, rather than going out of our comfort zones to witness.
We need to be like the servant in the story, obedient in carrying the invitation from the Father to the banquet of the kingdom.
During her address Lynn also shared a word that she felt God had put on her heart earlier that day. ‘I don’t think this call to mission is about frenetic activity.The less I have worked, the more fruitful I have been. I really feel God has laid this on my heart.
‘God is saying “I’m doing this, not you.” We need to get out of the way and in the right way!’
That’s why we can be encouraged by the prayer from Ephesians 3, she concluded: ‘our God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, and His power is at work in us.’